No Man’s Sky: More Ambitious Than We Thought?

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In a game that has been under a microscope for three years, you wouldn’t expect any stout revelations when it comes to gameplay days before release. Sean Murray and Hello Games have been smartly coy about what players will do in No Man’s Sky and that’s probably because they have no idea what players will actually gravitate toward in their procedurally generated sandbox.

There are a few players that have gotten their hands on retail copies a bit early, one having paid $1300 to do so, but apparently even they don’t have a full grasp of what this game will be at launch. On August 7th the crew broke their silence…kind of. With the game releasing on August 9th, Sean took to their website to share notes for the Day One patch.

Exploring a massive and evolving universe has been the foundation of every bit of marketing since No Man’s Sky’s reveal trailer in 2013. Players and journalists alike have tried to piece together a back-of-the-box feature list by scouring every new trailer and interview. The Guide to the Universe videos on the Playstation YouTube hammer down the Explore, Fight, Trade, and Survive foundations of gameplay, but the Hello Games crew has hit us with a couple more surprises with seemingly even more on the way. Here are a couple interesting features detailed in the 1.03 patch notes:

The Three Paths – there are now new, unique “paths” you can follow throughout the game. You must start the game on a fresh save, with the patch, as early choices have significant impact on what you see later in the game, and the overall experience.

Feeding – creatures now have their own diet, based on planet and climate. Feeding them correctly will yield different results per species, such as mining for you, protecting the player, becoming pets, alerting you to rare loot or pooping valuable resources.

Writing – The Atlas path has been rewritten by James Swallow (writer on Deus Ex) and me.  I think it speaks to the over-arching theme of player freedom more clearly now. Early mission text has been rewritten to allow for multiple endings.

If you’ve followed the game closely, you’re aware that there’s a narrative goal at the center of the No Man’s Sky universe. You’ll be able to continue exploring and completing other tasks after, but the only semblance of linearity points toward that checkpoint. We’ve not had much to go on before this patch, but now it’s to be understood that there are choices to be made early on, branching paths, and multiple endings tied to the center of the universe. While these aren’t game breaking revelations, they better support an experience beyond the infinite exploration that likely drew many in.

The bit about feeding pets that can poop out valuable resources, protect you, or even find loot for you is the more mind blowing reveal. Unless these interactions somehow carry over to other ecosystems on different planets, this feature offers a lot of incentive to stick around on the planets you come across. The declaration in the update that we’ll also have the ability to build bases and own massive freighters muddy things a bit more, especially when considering interactions with other players are currently non-existent and those upcoming features sound like they’d benefit from co-operative play.

Nevertheless, we don’t have all the details on these new features and Sean and team have been very explicit when saying this is a primarily single player title. Since launch on PS4, experiences in the game have been all across the board. The game has revealed itself to be more centered on survival than expected for one player, but has also provided stress relief with its daunting scale for another. Articles such as those and the many Twitch streams I’ve watched make one thing very clear: Like many other games have promised in the past, no player will have the same experience as another. 

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